Next week is a big deal for friends of coal.
Dozens of Northwest Colorado residents and lawmakers will head to Denver on Tuesday to testify and rally on behalf of the coal industry.
A free shuttle will pick up those wishing to head to Denver.
When: 7 a.m. Tuesday
Where: K-Mart parking lot (in Craig) and Ace at the Curve (in Steamboat at 8 a.m.)
The Environmental Protection Agency is hosting two-day public hearings in four cities across the nation, including Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Denver.
It’s all part of the EPA’s process in dissecting how to implement the proposed Clean Power Plan that was released to the public June 2.
Specifically, the Clean Power Plan will set forth rules about how to cut carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. According to the EPA, the plan proposes that power plants cut carbon emissions 30 percent nationwide by 2030.
The proposal has the coal industry worried about the future economics of coal-producing cities.
“I think that if the regulation are enacted, it will become an economic earthquake for Northwest Colorado,” said Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid, who spent 30 years of his career working for Craig Station as a control room operator.
The EPA is holding a public hearing to gather input on how to shape the proposed rules to fit everyone, said Lisa McClain-Vanderpool, from Colorado’s EPA office in Denver.
“Gathering public comments is a critical role in our rule making process,” she said.
The public comment period ends Oct. 16, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is required to have its carbon emissions recommendations to the EPA by June 2016.
Many in the coal industry are fearful that the finalized regulations will be so strict that it will be too expensive for power plants to upgrade facilities, forcing them to shut down.
In the long run, power plants and energy companies will have to pass millions of dollars of upgrades onto the consumers’ energy bill.
“You have to get (the EPA’s) attention,” said Frank Moe, owner of Best Western Plus Deer Park Inn & Suites in Craig. “There’s always a human side to any story and to any federal regulation.”
Moe and Kinkaid, along with others, are heading to Denver early Tuesday to rally against the proposed EPA regulations.
Kinkaid has signed up as one of the first on the list to testify in front of EPA representatives at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday. The hearings begin at 9 a.m. and continue until 8 p.m.
“I’m going to be starting things off, so I want to have the best kickoff to the hearing I can,” he said. “I’m going to take the weekend" to think about what I’m going to say.
Moe is helping provide a shuttle bus from Craig and Steamboat to Denver for those who want to attend the hearings and rally. The hearings will take place at the EPA Denver offices, and the rally will take place at Lincoln Park Veteran’s Memorial across from the state Capitol with speakers starting at noon.
For those who can’t make the trek to Denver, a rally will be held in Craig at the Clarion Inn & Suites from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday, and the Denver rally will be on Skype so friends of coal can participate remotely.
Hot dogs, snacks and beverages will be provided at the Clarion.
“For our area, (the EPA) has basically said ‘no’ to coal,” Moe said.
However, the EPA doesn’t agree with that statement.
“Coal will remain a critical part of America’s energy mix for the foreseeable future. EPA’s carbon pollution proposal provides each state with enormous flexibility in determining how to meet its pollution reduction goals, and does not mandate the retirement of any coal plants,” the EPA said in a statement to the Craig Daily Press.
“It’s our friends and neighbors who desire work in that industry,” Moe said.
The ultimate goal for those headed to Denver next week is to be heard.
The EPA regulations will “change just about everything in our region, as far as the way of life, and being able to support businesses,” Kinkaid said.
Reach Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com.